Category: design thinking

The I’s Have It

As this site has been assembled over the years, it has lacked focus.

Although it is a personal website, being that I am one of those people who is strongly defined by their work, it has needed that glue to hold it all together. I’ve been stewing on this for a while and I am finally ready to move forward with a philosophy, a cohesive thought about what I do and what I had to offer the world as a Designer.

I used to think I made logos, ads, movies, websites and other sundry things. That is true. Along with that simplistic view on my work, I have also proclaimed that it’s the act making these things that gets me out of bed every morning — the challenges that keep me interested in the things I do. This has been truly a simplistic way of looking at things and entirely wrong.

So I dove into the deep end. Pulling a Simon Sinek, I asked myself “Why?” over and over again. Much like a scene out of Ant Man and the Wasp, I’ve gone deeper and deeper down inside and found an answer to all those why’s. I was looking for answers that were not about me, why design, and how I can help make the world a little better than before.

Over the past few weeks I have been working in earnest to compile work I’ve created over the years. It now populates this site. Not everything, but numerous pieces that represent this philosophy and shows the world what I actually design:

Identities, Information and Influence.

I’ve looked at a number of other words to describe what I do, but all those words merely describe things. For me, Identities, Information and Influence are not things, rather they are outcomes. These are what I strive for, toil over and pour myself into so that together with my clients we will  make the world a better place.

Not only are Identities, Information and Influence outcomes, this is also a flow. A way of looking at design in total.

Identities are the most basic building block of communication, the starting point to broadcast who you are to the world.

Information design helps people you are trying to reach make better decisions.

Influence is the goal — to encourage change and make it easy to take further action.

This is a simple yet rich view of Design, one which I will continue to explore conceptually within this site and practice with my clients for years to come.

Consumed this Past Week

Forget Ted Talks: The Richards Group Wants University Students to Tune In to Stan Talks Instead 
The series offers lessons from ad legends like Keith Reinhard, Lee Clow and the late David Ogilvy

Subscribe to Stan Talks here

Keeping the Faith with the God of Creativity
FCB NY Chief Creative Officer Ari Halper offers up an assessment of what went wrong for the ad industry and why the industry deity – creativity – might just save us after all, writes Laura Swinton

JUST DO YOUR OWN JOB PROPERLY
An oldie but a goodie.

10 Modern Proofreading Tips to Catch More Avoidable Goofs
Traditionally, proofreading is a separate task from editing. And I still treat the two as different activities. However, the creative benefits of a consistent proofreading process surpass the classic definition of proofreading.

No more fixed budgets, rigid marketing calendars and long lead times: meet the new ad agency model
Why are not these Facebook “unicorn” success stories as common amongst clients managed by agencies?

Here’s Why Good Design Isn’t Negotiable For Your Business
Good design can make or break your business. Here’s why you should invest more in your design team.

Why Laughter Is a Key to Success, Especially at Creative Agencies
Owning your energy in a collaborative business

Milton Glaser on Making New Work at 89 and Why ‘Retirement Is a Trap’
Milton Glaser is the leading voice in the design world and has no plans of relinquishing that title any time soon.

THE FUTURE OF STRATEGY: BE LESS COMPLICATED
When Europeans set sail for the New World, there were two key tasks explorers needed to plan for: first, how would they know if they were heading the right way; and second, who could tell them where the treasure was when they got there? From the findings in this year’s report it seems like the global strategy crew need to know their role in how they find the gold. But it’s these two things, direction and interpretation, where they can add most value to the modern-day exploration of uncharted territories.

Why Lego is ‘upping the ante’ on its in-house creative agency
Lego brought creative in-house a few years ago to ensure creative has “a seat at the table” and improve transparency, productivity and innovation.

Why Design Thinking Works
Occasionally, a new way of organizing work leads to extraordinary improvements. Total quality management did that in manufacturing in the 1980s by combining a set of tools—kanban cards, quality circles, and so on—with the insight that people on the shop floor could do much higher level work than they usually were asked to. That blend of tools and insight, applied to a work process, can be thought of as a social technology.

 

Week links, #02

CREATIVITY

Here’s what the evidence shows about the links between creativity and depression
There’s a stereotype that mental distress is an almost inevitable part of being highly creative. But is there any substance to this idea, or have we been misled – by biographers drawn to artists with colourful and chaotic lives, and the conceits of cultural movements like the romantics?

DESIGN

Design in 2018 – what will graphic design look like?
As part of our series on the future of design in 2018, Standards Manual and Order co-founder Hamish Smyth looks at what will happen in graphics over the next 12 months.

Designers Finally Have A Seat At The Table. Now What?
Companies are finally listening to designers, writes Google Ventures’ Kate Aronowitz. Here’s what designers need to do now.

You’re not a designer unless…
Remember when you were learning design and your tutors told you that all you needed was was Photoshop and some ideas? Well, it turns out that there’s a whole heap of other stuff that you simply cannot call yourself a designer without.

2018 Is the Year of the Intangibles
At the Stanford d.school we practice “design abilities” to navigate today’s incessant murkiness.

Gordon House: Designer to The Beatles, ‘Groovy Bob’ + London’s Swinging Sixties
House was an artist himself, in addition to designing for some of the most prominent figures of the era. How had we not heard of him?

ADVERTISING

The Death of Advertising
Given the contrast between the recent success enjoyed by companies like Google and Facebook and the utter paralysis being undergone by CPG companies and advertising agencies the world over, I felt this article was worth republishing. Advertising will not “die,” per se, but what will are the brands that succeeded in a world without the unparalleled access that Facebook and Google afford consumers and producers to each other; brands that succeeded precisely because Facebook and Google did not yet exist. The advertising that emerges in tandem with the new — brands borne out of the existence of Facebook and Google — is already different enough so as to warrant penning an obituary for the advertising that emerged in tandem with the old. This is that obituary.

Hands up who’s heard of TOM McELLIGOTT?

More brilliance from Mr Trott: SHOW DON’T TELL

Return on Influence, the New ROI
The more marketers accept the concept of measuring influence relative to reach, the quicker social media industry standards will surface. Social networking revolves around the art of people interacting with people, not logos. People have influence. Things do not. Ultimately, influence is power that differentiates.

How to Build ROI and Accountability into Your Marketing Plan
While determining the right marketing mix can be a significant undertaking in itself, some of the biggest challenges associated with building a strategic marketing plan include assigning accountability and resources for each task, staying on track throughout the year and demonstrating your plan’s impact and ROI.

Is Jeff Goodby the Best Copywriter at Goodby Silverstein & Partners?
Why Specialization isn’t the secret to success

Time is on your side. Or should be.
For about thirty years, I’ve regularly done “The New York Times” crossword puzzle. For about the last ten years, I’ve confined my efforts to the Sunday puzzle. I’ve always regarded it as a reward for the week gone by, and a way to relax and unwind.

SELF-HELP

Are You Having Trouble Focusing? These Simple Strategies Will Help
In today’s always-on, information-overloaded world, it can be hard to stay focused throughout the day. How often do you find yourself distracted by inner chatter during meetings? Or how often do you find that emails are pulling you away from more important work?

How to Become More Productive Using the Pomodoro Method
It’s deceptively simple and hard to wrap your brain around if you’re like most people, working hours on end without allowing yourself to stop (because you think you can’t). However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Designing Your Life Through Design Thinking
Design thinking has helped me create new products, imagine new retail concepts, & solve other abstract challenges. It has also helped me to design a better life for myself. In fact, I believe design thinking may have helped save my life and that it has the power to save the lives of others.

What’s old is new and what’s new is old

Have you ever noticed that most stories have themes and undertones from other stories previously told?

And don’t so many of the characters in stories seem like you’ve met them before in another story? Their situations and how they handle themselves might be different, but you can see similar traits in characters whether in literature, TV, movies or even video games.

There is nothing new under the sun. I always heard that was attributed to Bill Bernbach addressing an ad club back in 1960s. What I like is that he lifted that line from The Old Testament.

My observations above are nothing new. Archetypes are nothing new. But thinking about characters and stories got me to thinking.

As designers around the world are dropping their traditional practices and jumping on the UX/UI bandwagon, something interesting is happening.

After all the (design) thinking, all the cogitating on new solutions to engage users in new and exciting ways, at the end of the day most of these solutions are all the same. They feel the same, and depending on the platform might even look the same. So much work goes into solving different problems with similar solutions.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Consider this: When trying to engage with with people at a deeper level, new might not be the best answer, because as humans we are naturally inclined to want to hear the same story over again.

And over and over and over.

Think about it. What other explanation is there for the romantic-comedy genre of film? Zillions of movies, similar plots, same outcomes. But people love them.

We want to see friendly faces we can identify with. Again, this is how we as humans are coded.

So this leads me to ask: When it comes to designing digital experiences, are there only so many paths we can lead users down? Are there a finite number of useful solutions? Further, do we want to engage with people in ways that they might not be comfortable for them?

I’m not arguing for the status quo. Rather, we like familiarity and having confidence to know that we will easily be able to make our way through an increasingly more complicated world. Shouldn’t the role of a designer be to help facilitate that journey?